For the record, I am not trying to write another rah-rah blog telling you that you can do it, if only you decide you want to succeed badly enough. If success were as simple as deciding you want to be happy and personally satisfied, I think most of us would make that choice. Strangely, not all of us would choose happiness, but I do think that most of us would.
Now, my belief is that we all have at least a little say in whether our lives have happiness in them. Also, please remember, a successful life is a personal definition. A person who is focused on altruism would not necessarily be excited to receive $1 million. An athlete may never make a $100 million, but would be thrilled to be a role-player on a team that won the championship game. And money? Well, if you are making $20,000 a year, $50,000 seems like unfathomable money, but if Bill Gates were asked to live off of $50,000 a year, he probably would not have a clue how to manage. That being said, I am sure he would forfeit every penny he ever had for the welfare of his family, which is a total different aspect of success. Your definition is just that- YOUR definition. The question for this article is not how to succeed for your neighbor’s happiness, but for your own.
Now, just to get the discussion rolling, the first category of life success I want to examine is the person who is born with every opportunity to make their lives as happy as they could imagine, and they just push it away. It is not often you see this, but it happens. These are people who you watch, and it almost seems like they are fighting against their own happiness and success. These are kids who were raised in loving homes filled with encouragement, where they don’t want for shelter or plentiful food. They go to good schools where the teachers are eager to help them succeed and help them flourish.
Yet, in spite of all of it, they seem almost deliberate in choosing life’s hardest path. Yes, life will always throw us tough pitches all through life, but these are the kids who are most equipped to handle it, and still they almost invariably choose to get hit by the ball, rather than take a swing. Why? I don’t completely understand, but I am starting to sort out some of the possible reasons. Success is funny… it is not impossible to achieve, and happiness is far from elusive; but it does take commitment. Simply waking up every morning is not enough to complete a life; you need to actively work to achieve what makes you most happy.
I would like to think I am somewhat successful. I started out on a decent path. I had a super supportive family, and a great education. I chose on many levels to not conform. Free spirited is what the teachers described me as. Other teens my age were content to go through teen angst and I would have no parts of it. I was not willing to conform, so I went against the grain and it seems in hindsight that I was much brighter than I should have been for that age.!
In a weird way, I was successful because I beat the odds of what was going on in Brooklyn in the 1980′s. I was not a teen mom. I was not chasing boys and I was a better than average student who was gainfully employed. In between college and work, I put in no less than 100+ hours per week doing something for someone else, all while battling exhaustion because I believed that the harder I worked the further I would get. That was untrue too! As matter of fact it was those around me who worked less that got a head.
Good decisions and a blind work ethic kept me employed. I got very lucky that I was able to play through a whole lot of pain and disappointment in my 20′s. I realize I was one of the lucky ones that got another chance to fix my issues- but that is why I say that no opportunity can ever be squandered, because you don’t know when the next one will arrive!
That is success.
What do you think?
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